Email Questions: Resentment, Postpartum Depression, & Happiness?

I received an email from a reader after writing the post containing my short notes on Sofia Tolstoy and her diary, expressing her conviction she felt when reading how she acted.

I read your post in my email the other day and felt like you were a fly on our wall.  I don’t want to feel angry at my husband for the little things in life, or be in what you called, “chronic unhappiness.”  You hit the nail on the head when you talked about someone wanting to play the victim.  I think part of why I feel so much resentment toward everyone in our house is because it’s harder to choose joy when things aren’t going as planned.  It feels good to complain and get sympathy, even though I don’t want to complain about my husband.  I think it can be an addiction because they give you attention if you have something to complain about, which then makes you feel good and you repeat the cycle.

It’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t even want to hear my complaints anymore, and we fight more than ever.  I’m always the killjoy, and I end up going into a rage at our kids.  

I know I’m hurting our family, but how can I stop this?  How can I be more joyful?

I already emailed back asking questions and such, but I thought this was a good starting point for a public discussion since maybe other women thought the same way but didn’t want to write in.  I think… and this really is just my opinion based on what has worked for me in my own life… that the real answer to this would be twofold: humility and gratitude.  I know that sounds so simple, but it is just profoundly true in almost every case.  Even if everything and nothing is working out, one can always choose to be grateful for something positive.

If your husband is basically a good man, a hard worker, etc. why not just choose to be grateful for each and every good thing in your life?  In other words, why allow yourself to dwell on resentful feelings?  Even if he tends toward being angry and grouchy (I’ve seen couples like this), you can still find your own happiness and joy in life that can positively affect your children.  Dennis Prager loves to say that unhappy people often find a happy person to latch themselves on to, and then they make them pretty miserable.  It’s best for happy people to marry other happy people, but because people are human and make BIG mistakes, that doesn’t always happen.  And unhappy people are usually smart enough not to marry another unhappy person lol.

I married another generally happy person, he’s easy to please and has the best demeanor I could have asked for.  Certain situations can make him more broody or annoyed, especially when tired or if our kids are really acting up, but personally I love he has an edge or, “dark,” side… it makes for more flirtation ❤

But if you married a man who is chronically unhappy, we’re not in the day and age where couples were kept carefully away from each other due to purity preservation, so there’s a big chance you saw the red flags but pursued them anyway.  Own your choice and try to make the best of it, knowing it may be harder.  I’m not saying it sounds easy, it looks like the cross someone may have to bear for life, but hopefully this helps with the question of, “well, what if my spouse just isn’t a happy person?”  To a large degree, you can still control your own happiness, something Stingray always brought up at her blog.

I bring this up because the reader pointed out that Leo Tolstoy sounded like a hard man to live with as an excuse to why Sofia was so crazy.  I don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg!  Was he difficult because she was so awful to him from the get-go?  Would he not have been kinder to a more pleasant and simply happier wife?  Remember, he came to her open-hearted, with love and humility in wanting her to accept him as he was, sins and all, and then she chose to use his sexual past as a perpetual stick to beat him with!  I’ve seen men like that, who started out happy, and are happy around everyone else, but when around their wives they turn bitter, angry and hurtful in their comments… and the horrible thing is that those women often brought all that on themselves starting from very early on in their marriage.  It really is a thing, that you can destroy your husband’s love for you.

Sooner or later,

everyone will sit down to a banquet

of their own consequences.

***

And I should say that it’s important to understand feeling negative emotions is ok – it’s natural and normal and you can say to yourself, “Ok, I feel hurt/angry/upset/resentful/envious, but then work through those feelings and get to the bottom of why you’re feeling a certain way.  Ultimately, I believe one works through those feelings with God healing them over time, I don’t think there are any, “quick fixes,” to heart issues that have invaded one’s character to become who they are now.  And that’s what I think happens… negative emotions CAN become addicting, and if you continually give in to them, let them have their way dictating how you behave, then you allow them to shape your character.

Why Humility?

Because when you’re humble, you’re more gracious and understand no one deserves anything in life ❤ everything is a gift, and when you see things that way, everything about you changes.

Resentment can easily happen when a wife starts to feel self-righteous and more Christian in comparison with her husband.  It’s ironic because resentment toward someone else only shows that we have a problem in our *own* hearts, and really has very little to do with our husband.  In other words, resentment is the first sign that we’re NOT doing well spiritually, that we have a problem that only we can address.  But the only way someone will admit this to themselves is if they have humility.  Humility takes the focus off of the other person, and places it on what we can do to make things better, because it forces us to look at ourselves realistically, resentment included.

Sofia Tolstoy, for all her claiming she was a self-sacrificing Christian, didn’t have the humility to admit she was spiritually messed up!  Humility accepts a person’s imperfections or, “humanness,” as I’d call it – it allows a person to be grouchy or make mistakes and can handle it in a loving way.  And yes I’ve walked this walk, so I know it can be done 🙂 .  I’ve also failed at it with other people because I’m human.  Approaching your marriage with humility does a lot in the way of receiving back kindness and love in thanks for your being gracious and loving toward your husband.

This kind of self-righteousness stemming from resentment is especially true in women who play the martyr of the family, though.  The reader was right that it does feel good in a way to have people pity you, or pay attention to you when you are sick/ill/depressed, etc.  Wanting a pity party can be a daily or weekly addiction though.  There are some women out there who live for when they’re sick, because they like the attention it brings from their husband or children – that isn’t healthy!  It’s probably a mental illness to seek out being a victim just to receive attention.

However, if you have real grief over something valid, having what looks like a pity party where friends or family listen to you and support you through your grief is totally normal.  I know there are people out there who like to claim women like me don’t allow women to feel negative emotions or grieve properly, etc. but I’ve never advised that.  What I do promote is women doing what I do, and taking responsibility for their own health and happiness in life, and not staying in a victim mentality or depressive state.  Simply because you won’t heal that way, and no one wins.

I don’t believe depression is sinful or anything like that, but allowing yourself to stay there, especially for months (or decades in Sofia Tolstoy’s case), starts to become a choice, and actions (choosing not to get help for the sake of at least your children) have consequences you may not intend.  The reader also asked if I’ve ever felt like this, or felt depressed for long periods of time, and yes, I definitely have unfortunately experienced scary level depression a couple of times.

The one I’ll focus on just because it makes more sense with motherhood and being a wife and such, was when we had our firstborn.  It was a scary situation with our son coming a month early due to the work-related stress we were under.  We worked together for an apartment complex and our boss was very clear she wanted a different couple, which was totally her choice, but it left us feeling VERY worried we’d lose our job and apartment since the job came with a free apartment.  We were young so I admit this wasn’t the best or wisest set up – we should have stepped down when we realized she wanted a couple with more time.  But instead we stayed and just tried harder, going far above and beyond to try to keep her happy, something that wasn’t possible lol, and this, at least, is what my doctor believed may have caused my amniotic sac to start leaking fluid into my body.  It took a few days in the hospital for the doctors to figure out what was wrong and to start and stop induction, and it finally culminated in an emergency c-section.  It was a stressful time, and our son stayed in NICU for a short week, but even with all that, I felt positive and was settling in to motherhood as best I could.

A couple of months after I had our son, one of my husband’s relatives began harassing him through angry text messages for hours upon hours on one of his off-days when we were out spending time together with the baby.  It was about something minuscule and out of the blue, but it felt like a deluge of rage and anger poured out on us and we couldn’t believe it was happening.  We weren’t even getting any sleep at night, and we were about to start a full schedule of college again, and still working for our demanding boss (there was no maternity break), so to say we were even more stressed to be on the receiving end of her angry tirades all day is an understatement.  Looking back in hindsight, I see us being so naive and young, in our early twenties, and can’t believe a woman who was almost 50 was allowing herself to harass us for hours on end when we had a newborn to take care of.

It’s interesting how negative emotions are contagious, even though my husband was forced to set boundaries with his relative, it still affected both of us for awhile… and for me, knowing this relative had played the victim to the rest of his family and gotten more relatives angry at us for my husband setting boundaries with her, I think caused me to slip into what became postpartum depression.

Why Gratitude?

The postpartum depression was unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my life.  And thank God, I’ve never experienced it with any of our other babies, which leads me to believe this one extremely hurtful and emotional event probably caused it somehow.  I’m a naturally optimistic and happy person, but it was the worst timing to be harassed for hours a day with angry, hurtful words when my hormones were still very out of whack.  The depression lasted for months and was overwhelming and very very dark.  It felt as if the sky was always, “gray,” so to speak.  The only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing that caused me to snap out of it was my husband confronting me when I was in a super negative self-pity mode (months later).  Somewhere in that timeframe, I had become settled into depression and complaining and only focusing on the bad things in the not so distant past… all the time.  He finally had enough, and was able to make me, “see,” and acknowledge all the good things that were still happening, and how even in a horrible situation, God took such great care with us and provided for us continually.  And it was true!!!  We ended up losing our apartment job (and our apartment), which was inevitable, and having to move with an infant, having to drop several college classes even though it was my last semester before graduating, which meant I’d have to postpone graduation (this felt like such a big deal at the time lol), and was too much for me psychologically.  I would go into this, “Woe is me,” drama when we were already well past it, and it thankfully came to a point where he just wouldn’t have it.

Everything was so bleak in my depressive state, I couldn’t see ANY goodness that had already come out of it, or God’s hand in it until my husband got me to stop wallowing in self-pity and to open my eyes.  And once he did open my eyes to all the goodness I wasn’t seeing, I was able to see that through it all, everything had worked out perfectly.  We were able to afford an apartment that was a two-story town-home with more room for the new baby, and closer to my husband’s job and to our school!  It felt like a beautiful little house and suddenly, after being snapped out of the self-pity mode, I enjoyed decorating it with our pictures.  We no longer worked for a woman who was so hard to please and who constantly held the threat of firing us over our heads 😀 and dropping some of the courses allowed me more time to bond with our baby.  It was almost as though we needed to go through those trials so that we could come to a place of peace and rest.

Gratitude was the cure, as well as being forced to admit I was acting ridiculous by still focusing on the terrible things lonnnng after they’d passed and God had already delivered us.  I wouldn’t have come to that place without him confronting and correcting my attitude of resentment and depression toward all that had happened.

Being consciously grateful for how God got us through those trials, how He was able to keep our marriage strong and together, gave me inspiration to live with happiness and joy.  I knew what it was like to feel depressed and anxious and not see anything good, and choosing to be thankful felt a million times more healthy and beneficial to everyone in our house!  Just being a thankful person makes one a joyful person… it’s mysterious in that way.

So to wrap this response up, I believe that no matter our circumstances, when we are Christian we are able to overcome things like depression, anxiety, loss of purpose, or resentment.

If you’re ever tempted to complain about your husband, when you know he’s really a great man and good father, try checking if your heart is coming from a place of humility first, and then gratitude for everything that IS going right.  I believe it will make a world of difference for you.

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Life Updates & Homeschooling… Again

I have many posts in draft, including one that has been asked several times here or via emails on what I think about women in ministry… it is coming, it’s just so complicated and long I’ve been trying to pare it down to a more easy-to-read post.

We’ve going through lots of things this past school year!  Homeschool has been amazing, even though sometimes it can be harder some days than others.  For the most part, it has been wonderful getting to really focus on teaching our older son (and to some degree our younger son) things that we feel the school system was deliberately leaving out or twisting to be seen from a false narrative.  And we’re able to focus so much more on Christian ethics and morals in our lessons, and involve the Christian aspects behind historical stories and even in science.

And going through Pilgrim’s Progress has just been AMAZING for our son.  Again, I cannot reccommend this book enough to families with children!  It is a MUST read for the strengthening of their faith (and for yours!).  Just read it, and honor it in your house.  I’m sure the sweet author John Bunyan may have gotten some things wrong, but overall it is very on point and a good tool for building a child’s faith.

***

In other news, some of you may remember we’ve been trying to have another child.

It’s just been taking longer than we expected, which isn’t really “bad,” but every month when I find out I’m not pregnant, I feel this emptiness and longing… and tell my husband how I just simply want to have another of his babies.  It’s a very strange and sad kind of emptiness.  And I’m so so sorry to sound so selfish to any women out there who have dealt with never having a child.  I’m not in any way trying to minimize your pain – I’m sure I should be happy that we have 3 already (and I am!), but it IS just a strange kind of thing that I’m going through each month that I’m not able to conceive.  I knew it would probably take longer… I’m far older than I was when we had our first (almost a decade!) and I’m accepting that maybe it’s not possible.

I definitely am not trying to make it a big deal, and some people in our circle think I’m ridiculous for even wanting more children 😦 , but to be honest, it has just been a little depressing and hard.  And I never thought I’d feel those feelings when needing to wait or having to accept that … maybe 3 kids is “it?”  It’s ok, and I still love and trust God so much, but I’ve been surprised at these feelings inside.

***

That and we’ve been through an intense few months of my husband studying for a work thing… something that took him away almost every second of him being off, but thankfully that season is over and we’re more into a, “let’s finish school strong,” mode 🙂 .

We’ve actually become busier as I’ve started to teach another sweet little boy (5 yr old) who is the grandson of our neighbor.  His father and mother had him out of wedlock in high school (she was only 16), and have both abandoned him to other life choices (her drugs and he’s off at college very far away).  He’s practically an orphan and it is just so hard to see up close and personal what that does to a child.

We’ve watched ALL of this play out over the years we’ve lived next to his grandmother.  And now she’s called upon me to kind of repair what they’ve broken and neglected.  He can’t even read or write well, and I’ve been gently teaching him just the basics, and thankfully it’s been working and hopefully in a small way, it will help him.  It’s so tragic.  He is so sweet, and my husband even wants to adopt him.  He’s basically become almost a part of our family as he’s over every day, and just kind of folded into the fabric of our life.

***

Something that’s been such a blessing in this busy season has been the mom’s group I’ve talked about before.  It’s a group that’s mostly made up of very large, home-schooling families… think 4+ kids per mom who attends!  It is incredible the stuff I’m learning in this group ❤ and SO fulfilling to be around other like-minded women and children it’s hard to describe how nice it is.

….

So with all that above, we’ve just been so. incredibly. busy.  And I’m exhausted, but it’s a good exhausted. 🙂

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: God’s Word Revives Us Daily

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We’ve been in such a busy season recently, that I’ve again come to be so grateful for having an established morning quiet time reading God’s Word and connecting to His grace.  We still have a very packed schedule, even though with homeschooling there is lots of relaxing time and outside, unstructured play… if I had to pinpoint it, the most strenuous part of our day is our workout routine (lol).  Yesterday my husband and I ran 6 miles (!!!), so I’m not kidding when I say it is intense and somewhat brutal.  So I need the peace and replenishment of morning quiet time ❤

There is something so strange and powerful that I feel when I make these morning quiet times a priority in my life.  I was reflecting as I was reading yesterday morning, yet again with our little daughter up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed sitting right next me reading along with her baby Bible book as well, just how wonderful it is to do this practice.

I came across Psalm 19 –

“The instruction from the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy,

making the inexperienced wise.

The precepts of the Lord are right,

making the heart glad;

the commandment of the Lord is radiant,

making the eyes light up.

The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever;

the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous.

They are more desirable than gold;

and sweeter than honey -than honey dripping from the comb.

In addition, Your servant (me) is warned by them;

there is great reward in keeping them.”  Psalm 19:7-11 CSB

No wonder I’m a forever optimist!!! 😀  Look at what happens to a person when they make the time to read God’s Word with an open heart and understanding in the morning!

Let me break down all those words again in a list.  God’s Word is:

  • Perfect
  • Trustworthy
  • Right
  • Radiant
  • Pure
  • Reliable
  • Righteous
  • Rewarding

And here is how we are told it effects us when we read it:

  • Revives our soul
  • Makes us wise
  • Makes the heart glad!
  • Makes the eyes light up!
  • Gives us good warnings
  • Gives us reward in keeping His ways

Wow, right!?!?!  That is what I feel though when I make time in the morning.  I can testify that all these things talked about in Psalm 19 are true; it’s why I’ve tried to always guard this time, even when we have babies still not sleeping through the night.  It’s almost crucial to my mental strength, as you can see, His Word has the power to renew one’s faith and optimism, and it renews daily!

And… can I just say… these are MORNING words in my opinion 🙂 .  “Reviving the soul,” and, “making the heart glad,” and “making the eyes light up,” these really do sound like a daily morning renewal before one tackles their day.

And what better time to get your replenishment and renewal of faith and optimism, “making your heart glad,” and your “eyes light up,” than in the morning? 😀  It’s like your spiritual cup of coffee (jk… but seriously), just like I couldn’t imagine going without that stimulant in my morning routine, I know how I feel when I bypass this practice because I’ve slept in (been lazy) or just too busy to make the time for it (refusing to meet with God even though I could have).

All this is not to say that you can’t also read it at night and feel relief after a terrible day – that is true also – but I’ve found it to be better to do what Jesus did, and get up early in the morning to devote the first fruits of your day to Him.  But God’s Word is powerful and can’t be “boxed,” in, hence why I believe this is also true when one reads it at night.  David has many Psalms where he meditated on God’s Word in the morning AND at night, but here is main morning one that convicts me,

IN THE MORNING, oh Lord,

You hear my voice;

IN THE MORNING,

I lay my requests before You, and wait in expectation.”

Psalm 5:3

Here is what I wrote in an older post on this topic… it’s interesting to look back and see what I was describing to be found so clear in this passage of Psalm 19, again confirming what I was trying to say.  From here

Rising Early … with babies?

Throughout the years of our marriage, even with having multiple children – babies nursing at all times of the night, I still find that waking up early (5am or 5:30am) to spend that quiet time with God is so crucial to my faith longterm – and it impacts my entire day!  I’m just not the same without it.  He literally changes my perspective and helps me deal with the day ahead with a much better attitude.  I’m definitely not perfect or always want to follow through with this goal.  There are some times when I’m not able to get up early, but I do notice a difference in my heart and attitude if I miss a couple of days in a row.  I need God all day, but especially in the early mornings before anyone else has woken up, so that I can spend time alone with Him and reading and studying His Word.

There’s also the principle of giving God your “first fruits.”  For anyone who has ever seriously studied the Bible, it’s apparent that God wants our best – and yes, that usually means we are required to sacrifice in order to give it to Him.  He wants our “first fruits.”

The first 10% of your pay (the normal tithe), the firstborn of your children (an Old Testament Jewish custom), the first day of the week devoted to Him (the Sabbath), even the first of the people’s grain (their food) was to be given to the Lord – before they were allowed to harvest anything for themselves!  It makes total sense that a woman’s early morning time should probably be first devoted to God, no matter when she wakes up. 🙂

In fact, Jesus Himself spent time alone with His Father early in the morning.  There’s something just very mysterious about that early morning time that even I can’t put my finger on.

 “AND IN THE MORNING, rising up a great while before the day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” — MARK 1:35

How to Survive in the Desert

***

Our boys watched this as part of the homeschooling science experience when learning about the different biomes, specifically, the rainforest, desert, and tundra.  The oldest had to pick one to do a mini project on, and he hands-down picked the desert!

Oh what fun!!!!  So we’ve been diving into the adventure of EVERYTHING to know about the desert, and one thing he thought would be interesting was to learn how one would survive if they were ever stuck out in the desert for a period of time.

Thought this video might be something others would like 😀 there is a part 2, however we haven’t watched that one yet.

I have to say though, both boys were glued to the screen the entire 36 minutes long, even though a lot of it is just talking and explaining, they LOVED watching this man teach them that much!

If anyone who happens to be reading this post has ever had experience living or camping (or surviving!!) in a desert, I’d very much appreciate your take on this video (and your personal experience in general)!

 

Is Marriage Really “Ugly?”

MARRIAGE IS NOT BEAUTIFUL

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“Marriage is ugly. You will spend the rest of your life seeing the absolute best and worst in someone. You will see them when they are mad, sad, stubborn, and so unlovable that they make you want to scream. You will witness parts of them no one will ever see but you. They will ignite all sorts of emotions that include anger, weeping, laughter and joy.

Marriage isn’t a beautiful thing, but it is amazing. It is knowing that someone loves you and won’t leave you even when you are being nasty. It is having someone who’s got your back no matter what. It is fighting over stupid things, falling asleep in each others arms, and feeling like there will never be enough time to spend together.

Marriage is the dirtiest, hardest, most rewarding job there is because at the end of the day you get to crawl into bed with your best friend, the weirdest, most annoying, loving, goofy, perfect person that you will ever know.

Marriage is not beautiful but it is quite an adventure!”

 

***

I came across this online today, and kind of went “Huh?”

I get it that marriage has difficult moments because both the husband and wife are human (and sinners) and we just kind of have a human knack for selfishness… BUT it shouldn’t always feel ugly or be this way.

I know I’ve gotten criticized for being an envy inciter for posting happy pictures or talking about how good marriage can be, but perhaps it’s my optimism that helps me focus on the positives.  I would just never call marriage “ugly.”

To me, it really is beautiful.  Yes, even with the misunderstandings, or when dealing with an imperfect human… when you talk it out together, forgive each other and choose move on, it does feel beautiful.  Misunderstandings and working through problems can actually bring couples closer when they do it peacefully and keep the end goal in mind (of staying close together in oneness).

But I guess that would mean women need to take responsibility for their bad behavior in a marriage (or should I call it toxic femininity LOL?).

There are many behaviors that could make a woman (or a man) feel like marriage is indeed, ugly.  Especially their own marriage if these behaviors are present.

We really shouldn’t just allow ourselves as women to be “nasty,” toward our husbands.  That should be obvious.  And we shouldn’t allow ourselves to pick fights over “stupid” things.  There’s wisdom in bringing topics up in a peaceful way, or in choosing one’s battles.  Having a peaceful and loving attitude does wonders for maintaining a happy marriage.  This means you shouldn’t be so uptight with your husband that you make everything a fight.

I’m not saying that a wife will be able to never have moments of acting sinful toward her husband (“nasty” or fighting over stupid things), but when it does happen, there should be true repentance.  Letting your husband know you will try to not act like that again is also helpful in him forgiving you.  I do believe that with the fruits of the Holy Spirit at work in a Christian woman’s life, a woman doesn’t have to fall into repeat patterns of “nastiness.”  Even a bad case of PMS shouldn’t make a woman feel the “freedom,” to lash out at her husband.  Because lashing out shouldn’t be a freedom.  And no, marriage shouldn’t be ugly.  

An adventure?  Yes, and I’d like to say it’s a good one to be on.

Happy Baby Girl

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All of us were sick a week ago, and we were just getting better this week.  I’ve actually never had all three children get THIS sick with a stomach bug all at the same time.  I had to set up the living room so they were all sleeping in easily accessible places so I could get to them in time.  Every 20 minutes one of them would start vomiting, and this went on for about 5 hours, so I just stayed out there with them, trying to sleep in between those 20 minutes.  Just seeing little ones throwing up and their whole little bodies being so sick and in so much pain was horrible.  Thank goodness it only lasted that one night, and then it was easy to care for them the next few days as they were so weak and exhausted.

It was crazy hard, and yet very sweet and bonding in unexpected ways. ❤

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We’ve been finding out that homeschooling is not a very glamorous production 😀 , teaching and school work and projects get done, learning gets done thankfully, but at least for us at this time, it’s priority number one.  This is a nice way of saying the rest of the house gets tentatively put on hold at times, until I can get to it, which is very frustrating for me.  Laundry is clean, but needs to be folded and put away.  Or dishes need to be done, those kind of things are looking to go a little by the wayside at times these days.

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Hopefully I can find more balance to teaching and getting housework done, soon.  But oh how the garden is calling 😀 and Spring is coming!!!!  We are definitely going to be doing mostly outdoor classes once the weather gets warmer.  The days already look just like Spring sometimes 🙂 and our kids love being outside.

 

So… while the kids were over their sickness (and we were getting it and getting over it) right about the time the lunar eclipse happened earlier this week, and with homeschooling, something like this is a MUST, nevermind me still being a little sick… it was totally worth it!

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We didn’t let our oldest stay up for all of it of course, but we let him stay up to see the beginning of the eclipse and to try to get some pictures.  I showed him how to take moon pictures, which can be tricky 🙂

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You can really see the eclipse starting… when we first went outside, we could see the entire full moon!  This was just so much fun to do with our son!

We’re all feeling better now, and so excited for sunnier weather 😀

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Thanks for reading ❤

Stephanie

Letters from Mentors: Will the Light in My Eyes Go Out from Not ‘Achieving All I Could Be?’

A few months ago, I had a discussion with RichardP at another blog about going back to school to get a simple training degree (2 years or shorter!) eventually when the kids were older.

RP said:

“I’d hate to see the light go out of your eyes because you one day conclude that you never got the chance to be all that you could be.”

I really don’t think he meant ill-will toward me at all, but something about his comment sounded odd to me, as if the only way the light in my eyes wouldn’t go out, would be pursuing more education and getting back into the working world (which realistically, this may not happen now that we’re homeschooling).  When something bothers me, I tend to ask women I consider friends and mentors what they think.  So I asked a few women who were older (decades older) to see what they thought of his comment, especially in light of our family situation of me needing to be home with our kids right now.

Stingray gave me just an incredible reply with lots of wisdom and encouragement; it gave me much to think about.

The whole point of having these “Letters from Mentors,” is to help other women out there who may feel the way I do, have the same questions or are looking for answers that aren’t readily available anymore in our sinful culture.  I hope her words blesses any women out there who come across this same sentiment like her words blessed me.

***

From Stingray:

Hey Stephanie,

I’ve  been thinking about your email a lot over the past months and I can tell you, this man’s statement is incredibly irritating to me, as well.  I have to say, you need to go with your gut on this one.  The light in your eyes is there because of the joy in your life.  You get to decide what brings you joy.  Not some random man who only knows you from the internet.  It sounds to me like your family brings you joy.
What kind of light would you really have in your eyes if you went back to school, presumably went into a good amount of debt, and missed all of that time with your family?  And while much of the world these days tends to equate the piece of paper you would get for your degree as an education, is that really what it constitutes?
Many would say that since I’m a homeschooling stay at home mom I am wasting my life, but I can certainly tell you that I am FAR more educated now than I was when I got my degree (which was useful in finding me a husband and that was the very best thing that came from it).
Education is not a piece of paper.  It is a compilation of what you have learned.  What better age to live in than the internet age to get a true education. If it is knowledge you desire, you have it nearly free at your finger tips.  If it is status you desire, which is what most women want when the speak of career, then yes, school is the way to go.  But as you said, at what price and will it bring you joy?
You asked if I have run into this.  Not personally, no.  I mean, I’ve seen people who really resent stay at home mom’s and whatnot, but it’s never been said to my face.  (Well, when I was pregnant with my first a woman asked me what I was going to do after the baby came and I told her I was going to be a SAHM and homeschool.  The look she gave me suggested I had a foul stench, but I just thought that was funny).
But being a SAHM has always been my dream since I was a little girl.  I never had any career aspirations. I did go to college, because that is what you did at 18 those days.  I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t enjoy working for the 5 years I did. 
I get that some women are happy working, but I do not believe that it is true of most of the women who make that claim.  I think they say it because they think they have to.  They believe it, because the alternative is unthinkable.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not unthinkable.

The alternative can really be what maintains that light.

Yeah,  I know that in the midst of diapers and sleepless nights that it might not seem like it, but really envision that dream you mentioned.

Having those Godly children and watching their effect on the world.  In 50 years, in 100 years, what do you think will have a bigger impact in this world?

This is all to say, that man doesn’t know what he is talking about.  He’s mimicking back to you the standard knowledge so many of us were taught growing up.  But were most of us ever taught an alternative choice to this?  Were we ever taught that something else that might bring us great happiness is out there?  Why were we never given a choice to make on our own?  The very fact that you believe you do have a choice says a whole lot.  Don’t let him doubt yourself.  This is your choice to make and you have given it way more thought and have more experience to make the decision than vast numbers of people out there.  It is yours to make.  You know what brings you joy.
Block the rest of the world out and listen only to that still small voice and your husband in this matter.  You will figure it out that way.  The world is not in your home.  Your home is where this decision needs to come from.
All my best to you, Stephanie.  Make this choice in a place of confidence.  Follow your gut.  You know far more about this than most.  Trust that.
Stingray

Books for Young Minds

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One of the gifts we thought to give our oldest (8) this year for Christmas, was the gift of some really good classic books.  We both have an intense love of books and reading, one of our favorite pastimes before we had children was to take turns reading to each other at night after the work day from our favorite books.

We want our children to hopefully share this love of books, and we think the best way to help them achieve that, is to read to them, and to read to them often.

Starting our homeschooling journey recently, I’d been trying to figure out what kinds of books to read that were fitting for him.  The coursework I’d chosen was great in all other categories, except the literature suggestions unfortunately.  I mean… this boy has been reading Harry Potter since age 5 in kindergarten.  He went through all the books of Narnia with my husband two years ago – so suggestions like Winnie the Pooh or Pippi Longstocking, although we read through them and laughed… they’re more in line with what I’m reading to our 4 year old.  I could tell he really needed more.

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The first one he was super excited to dive into was The Pilgrim’s Progress.  I told him about this book as it was one I remember reading when I was about his age at the Christian school I went to.  This book was so good, and so helpful in one’s Christian journey, that even 20-something years later, I still think about it and remember parts that reflect what I’m going through in my journey as a Christian.  Even now as we’ve started reading it together (he was so excited he couldn’t wait for the break to be over 😀 ), I’m given the chance to find new treasures and meanings in it that I of course missed at such a young age.  I told him this, too, that this would be a book he’d probably love to reread over the course of his life, just to understand the journey better as he gains more life experience.  I still think it’s good for children this young to read it.  I remember reading it and of course realizing I didn’t have those kinds of life experiences yet, but still understanding the wisdom it imparted and instruction on how to navigate different things like despair and discouragement, the hills of difficulty, etc.  And I can see that even though he’s only 8, he already comprehends those things, too.

Plus it is wonderful to read it with him, stop and then explain things about life and faith.  The characters in Pilgrim’s Progess are just so necessary for children to understand!  People who are “Obstinate,” or “Pliable,” or the “Wordly Wiseman,” or the man named, “Legality.”  Each one proposes an amazing discussion we then have about who these people are, why they are the way they are, and how they derail one’s life or miss what Christianity is about.

Rereading this book also prompted us to look into the life of the author, John Bunyan, who was such an admirable man in his own right.  Learning together about his own life journey, and that he wrote this book while in prison (!) was a huge lesson in and of itself for us to talk about.  We even read through Bunyan’s “Apology,” for his book, or rather struggled through it LOL…  Because of his use of old English and speaking in riddles, every line I had to stop and explain what he was talking about.  It provided new ideas our son has never thought about deeply enough, but also great humor as every sentence rhymed and sounded so strange!  Overall it was a great lesson in not only the history behind him being imprisoned for just preaching and living out his faith, but also his steadfastness in the face of persecution (writing a book he knew would probably not be accepted – hence the lonnng apology and defense of it).  It was also interesting to learn that some of Bunyan’s harshest critics and naysayers, were of course the fellow Christians themselves.  It’s always been that way, from the Prophets of old, to the Wesley’s, to Spurgeon, etc. and that itself is another great lesson.

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The other books we got him are as in the first picture, Gulliver’s Travels, The Swiss Family Robinson, and Treasure Island.  He already knows of The Swiss Family Robinson, as it’s one of the my husband’s favorite stories, and it has A LOT of strong Christian lessons in it, more than what the popular movies would make it seem like.  We love it because it portrays the almost insurmountable trials of a very traditional Christian family, and shows them constantly looking to their faith and the Bible, and guidance from God to understand how to overcome their barrage of struggles.  Just a wonderful book for growing and influencing a young person’s faith, in our opinion.

And of course Gulliver’s Travels and Treasure Island are more just for pure boyish fun!  Not that girls can’t enjoy these books, too, although I admit I was never interested in reading these two.  Apparently, when men read these as boys they tend to stay with them long into adulthood, which to me is a mark of a very good book worth reading!

 

More books I can’t wait to read with him:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Oliver Twist

 

If any readers have suggestions for what else would be good for children his age, please let know!  I don’t think you can ever have too many good books 😀

Stephanie

Letting Children Have a Vision of Marriage

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“The parent who loves his children and takes pleasure in training them in right conduct gives the best possible testimonial to marriage.

On the other hand, the parent who constantly complains about his physical, financial or emotional burdens breaks down his youngster’s vision of marriage as a worthy state in life.”

– Rev. George A. Kelly 

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I stumbled upon this passage above a month ago when reading, and it felt like getting hit with a two-by-four upside the head!  LOL  While I do strive to be the best mom I can be to our kids, enjoying teaching them and doing life with them, the overall quote felt convicting!  The worst thing I think in my journey as a mother would be to rob my children of the hope and joy they should have at this age – by making them fear growing up and feeling like they won’t be able to handle whatever burdens or trials they’re supposed to carry later on.

But I never linked breaking a youngster’s vision of marriage as a worthy state in life, with complaining – it makes so much sense!

And of course it’s true, a complaining mother is a drain on everyone in the family, she  sucks the joy and happiness out of life.  Sure, life may be hard, but I can see how crucial it is to choose our attitudesomething my husband taught me I think in our 2nd year of marriage from a book he had read in college.

Ironically, it was a book about work-ethic mentality, meant for people in the corporate world!  But it was a great book for how to live one’s life in general, echoing sound biblical advice of doing one’s work with a cheerful attitude, putting other’s above yourself in “making their day” (making them elated!), and finding fulfillment in enjoying your work.  It was interesting… to think one can change their whole experience of even their dire circumstances, by simply changing their attitude.

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How Does a Mom Exhibit a Worthy Vision of Marriage?

Make it a point to have fun, and have fun with your children and husband often!!!

This is something that should be a given, however, I think our natural default as humans is to fall into complaining.  Therefore we have to choose our attitude, no matter what is going on.  And to tell you the truth, even if everything is going well, our sin nature masked in the temptation to complain can come out even then unfortunately.

With how busy life gets, or bogged down with various day-to-day tasks, hardships or even trials families go through, I am seeing how setting aside time for making joyous and happy memories together is a necessary engagement.

This means even if we’ve had a long week, and we had something fun scheduled at the end of it, we make sure to still do it, in lieu of staying at home and calling it an early night.  We’ve found it’s so much more fun to go out together and experience our “fun” things, rather than just giving in the passivity of tiredness or even the kids’ moods.

Love your husband well… and openly… and at every opportunity!!!

It is sad to me that this still needs to be said, but nothing makes children happier and more at peace than seeing and knowing how in love their parents are, and how much fun they have together and with them.  

I think it is the secret recipe for a blissful family life overall.  Not that hard things don’t come, or heartbreaking tragedies, but even in the midst of these in our life together, we’ve found that the love and joy between us, carries us through those times much easier than it would be if we didn’t have that in our marriage.

Complaining or bad attitudes in general just makes everything harder, less fun, and definitely less loving.  This is true whether at work, school, in friendships, but probably especially within a marriage and around one’s children, who see them as they are all the time.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Philippians, because it is the book on how to have joy in one’s life.  This passage comes to mind whenever I find myself tempted to complain:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world as you hold forth the word of life, in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” 

Philippians 2:14-16

I want my children to have a good vision of what a worthy marriage looks like, however human we may be.

Stephanie

Blessings in the Interruptions

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My husband snapped this picture in the morning before he left for a special assignment… said it was too cute to miss.  Recently, our beautiful girl has decided waking up VERY early is just the thing to do 😉 and I’ve been letting her stay up with me so I can continue with some time to read the Bible and pray.

What I would have considered an interruption has become such a beautiful blessing of extra time to cuddle with her and enjoy alone time with her.  I usually get her some chocolate milk, and coffee for myself, and sit back down where she stays quietly reading one of her books or her little Christmas story Bible (sooo cute!!!) and gives me another 30 minutes to an hour to read and pray.  Our boys were a little too rough and rowdy to have done this (and I tried LOL) so having a sweet, gentle girl is a nice change 😀 !  I love how different they are.

In the book, The Mission of Motherhood, this quote recently stood out,

“How do we make the commitment to give the area of motherhood over to God as a sacrifice of worship to him?

We yield our personal rights into his hands.  We give up our time and expectations to him – and also our fears and worries about how we will manage.  We trust him to take care of us and our family.  We let him redirect our thinking and expectations and adjust our dreams.  And we wait in faith to see the fruit of our hard labor in the lives of our children, knowing that he will be faithful to honor our commitment to him.”

I consider that early morning time – a time of peace and a rare stillness that falls over the house when everyone else is asleep – my time to replenish and really focus on God and His Word.  I can see how it could be called my “Me-Time,” or be something a friend would say I have a “right” to.  And I get it – having that time not go as I planned due to a fussy baby means mentally or emotionally giving up this “right.”

We’re all about “rights” as women in this day and age.  Whether it’s the “right” to some alone time, the “right” to some pampering, or even the “right” to complain (yes, I’ve heard this!), it seems we live a chronic state of feeling we deserve certain circumstances or treatment.  Since mothers usually do spend a lot of time serving, I think we have this expectation that we should receive a form of “payment” in return for all our efforts.  But that’s just it – a real sacrificial love doesn’t demand (or even expect) payment or retribution for things lost like time and energy.  Is alone time or being pampered inherently bad?  Of course not 🙂 but it can be if we view them as though they’re owed to us because we “sacrifice so much.”

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Loving our children in such a way that we try to re-frame these interruptions, or messes… or accidents… into opportunities for blessings or “divine appointments,” as Clarkson calls them, is such a dramatic difference in perspective.  I admit this is something I have to routinely call myself back to in keeping in focus.

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“Greater love has no one than this,

that one lay down his life for his friends.”

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Clarkson goes on to describe God’s design for motherhood as comparable to what Jesus described in John 15:13.  Mother’s in many ways, are called to figuratively “lay down their lives” for their children.

This means that even when we don’t feel like it, we choose to “serve” them by getting up with them or helping them get back to sleep. ❤

It means that even when it’s the millionth time that week that we’re cleaning the kitchen floors because babies and toddlers eat so messy, that we choose to do it anyway.  ❤

It may mean SO many different changes and sacrifices made toward goals, careers, dreams, or life plans in ensuring they’re getting what they all need from us.

Something I’ve been thinking about, and something that has been brought to the forefront as we’ve had more children, is the “cost” of motherhood.  How deep is that cost I don’t know.  I’m sure it differs for each family, and certainly when considering how many children a mother has, but it is a topic very interesting to me when thinking about how much a woman gives up (yet also gains) when living out the role of a mother?

If anyone has any ideas on this topic I’d love to hear them!

Stephanie